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This week marks the first anniversary of Windows 10 – Microsoft's latest and most successful operating system (OS) yet. To mark the occasion, Microsoft has launched its anniversary update, a stream of improvements and developments drawing on the core principle of evolution, not revolution. While previous OS's have featured 'big bang' releases, Microsoft's stated strategy with Windows 10 was – and remains – to get into a lifecycle of continuous improvement; today's anniversary update shows them keeping this promise.
At the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) we really began to get a picture of what the Windows 10 anniversary update would entail. We heard how it would align with two key strategic themes from Microsoft: to create products that enable people to be more productive; and to ensure products are as secure as they possibly can be. You can read more about some of the other announcements from Microsoft in our WPC key takeaways article.
The first significant development is a big enhancement to the Edge browser that comes with Windows 10. Adoption has been slow since its launch, but Microsoft has clearly been putting in the time and effort needed to push wide-scale uptake and the addition of Edge extensions is key to this. One such extension to Edge is an advertisement blocker, which once activated makes Edge one of the fastest browsers on the market – aligning with the strategy to enable greater levels of productivity.
What's interesting with the Edge enhancement is that Microsoft seems to be adopting a strategy, not of 'dictating' to the market, but rather saying "we're innovating and offering an enhanced OS that will help you bring your products to market faster". Microsoft is keen to showcase the Edge browser as the tool of choice for those service providers offering web-application services (Software as a Service - Saas).
Windows Hello is another of the stand-out developments in the Windows 10 anniversary update, bringing together the two strategic strands of productivity enablement and security. Windows Hello provides new ways to authenticate using biometrics including facial recognition. Since this is essentially 3D detection, an HD camera with a specialized illuminated infrared camera is required in your device. This feature is then used as a digital fingerprint across all Windows Hello compatible devices, negating the need to continually tap in passwords and remember numerical authentication codes. Service providers will also be able to add it to their online authentication mechanisms and Windows Hello offers one of the strongest single factor authentications around. That's not all; it can also be used alongside authentication apps to create a powerful two-factor authentication approach.
This is great news for organisations with a large mobile workforce, utilising multiple applications, who need to access to data at speed, such as field based employees, community workers or civil servants.
Another of the key developments involves Cortana – the clever personal assistant, which Microsoft has made available even when the device is locked. This means it can be set to give you reminders and issue basic commands without the hassle of unlocking the device, continuing the theme of enhanced productivity outlined at the start of this blog.
Another enhancement sees devices featuring a stylus now given the ability to write Post-It notes using the Windows Ink capability. Windows Ink works with all kinds of apps, from built-ins like Cortana and Microsoft Edge to creative apps from manufacturers like Adobe, bringing together all the AU enhancements in one place. So if you ever need to jot down a quick note, click the pen on the Stylus, even when your device is locked, and you'll be able to write it down, without having to search for a piece of paper and a pen. Furthermore, you can set reminders within Notes that flow across your Cortana enabled devices and reach you at the right time and place - for example when you're passing the florist Cortana will remind you that you made a note to buy flowers.
Keeping with the theme there's some extra muscle being added to the security features. Windows Defender, the anti-malware service, receives a scheduling tweak enabling the end user to set it to run during a low use period. Enterprise customers get two major new features; Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (WDATP) which detects, investigates, and responds to advanced malicious attacks on networks by providing a more comprehensive threat intelligence and attack detection; and Rights Management Services, which arrives on the PC via Windows Information Protection, enabling businesses to separate personal and organisational data on the same device, helping protect corporate data where ever it goes.
Of course, the anniversary update comes just four days after the Windows 10 free upgrade ended. Many of the organisations we speak to, particularly those operating in the Public Sector, have held back from moving to Windows 10 due to a reluctance to adopt a manufacturer's latest release, opting instead to wait until the next 'service packet' has been launched. Now that Microsoft has adopted a continual improvement strategy for Windows 10 that will inevitably change, but given today's update, Microsoft expects many of those customers to upgrade. You can read more about the various upgrade opportunities here.
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